Committee puts Pressure on Department to Deliver a Safe and Fair Taxi System
Date: 04 July 2011
Reference: ENV 02/11/12
The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for the Environment has called on the Department of the Environment to deliver a safe and legitimate taxi system that is fair to all users. The Committee's call comes following continued delays by the Department to implement the 2008 Taxis Act and extensive lobbying by taxi passengers and companies with serious concerns about the Department's plans.
Committee Chairperson, Anna Lo said: " The key driver for the Committee is the need for consumers to have access to a safe and legitimate taxi system that is fair to everyone – and one that is suitable for the whole of Northern Ireland, not just Belfast and our cities.
"The Committee has received many calls and letters from taxi companies and passengers with concerns about the Department's plans. Such was the level of concern we held a special event attended by companies, passengers and the Department. Following this event, the Committee considered everything it heard and has now written to the Department with its views.
"The Committee agrees with the Department's plans to implement an operator licensing system on the understanding that this will help deliver a safer system for users. We have made it clear to the Department that this must deliver a taxi system that can be easily regulated to exclude illegal operators at a cost that is fair and affordable. The Committee does not agree that wedding and funeral car operators should be included in this.
"The Committee is in favour of the Department's plans for a single tier system which will mean all taxis are able to pick up fares without the need for pre-booking. However the Committee has some misgivings about the classification of disabled taxis within this system. Specifically the Committee is concerned about plans to provide ranks for disabled taxis only and how this will work in practice. The Committee is asking for the Department to review this as it is essential that there is fairness for disabled users – both in terms of access to taxis, but also in the fares they are charged.
"We have also highlighted to the Department that taxi license plates should be displayed somewhere that is clearly visible to taxi passengers, and should be in the same place on all vehicles. We have also recommended that the Department reintroduce the taxi driver test."